Photo: Jakov Simović
Photo: Jakov Simović

The first media conference for the announcement of the double edition of the 54th and 55th Bitef, which will take place September 13-25, has been held in Belgrade. As a reminder, due to the inability of the 2020 Bitef being held in its full capacity, this year a double edition will be held with a larger number of plays than usual. The main program of the festival will consist of fourteen productions from France, Belgium, Germany, Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Iran, Mexico, Austria, and Chile.

The thematic focus of the festival, whose slogan is Edge of the Future, is the concept of posthumanism, in the context of a world that should be less anthropocentric. This vision of the world was created, among other things, from the awareness of the global ecological crisis (and possible cataclysm) which is also a theme of the festival. Closely related to the topic is the aesthetic (formal) focus of the festival. It addresses the dehumanization of the body of the performer in different forms: through choreographic processes, lighting and video effects, the absence of the performer, their digital presence, use of robots and drones on stage.

The press conference at Belgrade City Hall was addressed by Bitef Artistic Director Ivan Medenica, Bitef Theatre Director Miloš Latinović, City of Belgrade Secretary for Culture Ivan Karl, Goethe Institute Director Frank Baumann, and Cultural Attaché with the French Embassy and French Institute Catherine Faudry.

In opening the media conference, Bitef Theatre Director Miloš Latinović expressed his conviction that Bitef, as one of the most important theatre festivals in Serbia and Europe, will again this year justify the epithet of one of the most significant cultural events in general.

Speaking of the decision to hold a double edition of the festival this year, City of Belgrade Secretary for Culture Ivan Karl pointed out that the upcoming Bitef edition will be one of the more distinct ones (due to the conditions under which it is being organized), but also one of the most appealing ones in the long history of the festival. He affirmed that the efforts of the Bitef team have been recognized, and therefore a significantly larger budget than usual has been allocated for this edition.

Bitef Artistic Director Ivan Medenica presented the concept of the double edition and the productions from the main programme, which are signed by some of the most significant authors and companies in European and global theatre, such as Thomas Ostermeier, Philippe Quesne, Rimini Protokoll, Wim Vandekeybus, and others. Medenica also drew attention to the efforts by the Bitef team to be environmentally conscious, in line with the thematic focus of the 54th and 55th Bitef, and presented concrete environmentally responsible measures to be implemented in the realization of the festival, as well as announced a large international conference on the topic of ecology, which will be held as part of the festival’s abundant side programme.

Photo: Jakov Simović
Photo: Jakov Simović

Frank Baumann expressed his satisfaction with the fact that German theatre will once again be adequately represented at Bitef, specifically by Thomas Ostermeier’s production of An Enemy of the People, which has caused strong reactions in every social environment where it has had a guest performance.

Catherine Faudry spoke about French productions Flesh and Farm Fatale, and expressed appreciation for Bitef’s artistic team selecting the works of some of the most original artists from the French speaking world - Philippe Quesne and Franck Vigroux.

The visual identity of the festival, which was created by the McCann Belgrade agency, draws precisely from the uncertainty that we live in, attempting to depict it in a manner that is not necessary intimidating, but rather intriguing.

The festival is traditionally supported by the City of Belgrade Secretariat for Culture and the Ministry of Culture and Information of the Republic of Serbia, the Goethe Institute, and the French Institute in Belgrade. Once again, this year Bitef’s partner and friend is I&F Group, within which the festival’s creative agency McCann Belgrade operates. The partners yet again are Erste Bank a.d. Novi Sad and long-standing friend of the festival Coca-Cola Hellenic Serbia.